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ClausNet Gazette: News from the Santa Claus Network

October 2011

Volume 3, Issue 10

Welcome Fall!

By Michael Rielly

Boo!Welcome to the October issue of the ClausNet Gazette!

Like many of you, October is when I start getting busy. It seems like when the weather starts getting cooler and the trees start to turn, is when my phone starts ringing with people looking for Santa Claus.

This month we take a nostalgic look at the tradition of portraying Santa Claus. In this issue, we highlight James Edgar's role as the very first department store Santa Claus and feature an excerpt from Donna Strother Deekens book, Christmas at Miller & Rhoads: Memoirs of a Snow Queen.

Also in this month's Christmas Podcast, classic movie expert Merry Carey as she talks about the different actors considered for the beloved characters in classic Christmas roles. And be sure to check out this month's Gallery selections where we feature a few photos and video clips from years past.

We hope you enjoy this edition of the ClausNet Gazette! Remember, if you have a product or a story that you would like to share with your fellow members, please feel free to contact us!

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In The News

Breaking News on ClausNet

Yarmouth as Christmas destination in the works -- Reindeer? The largest lobster trap in the world? Sleighs to transport shoppers? These and many other ideas were discussed during a meeting at town hall Wednesday night.

The event, which drew close to 50 from the business community, was a brainstorming session on how to make Yarmouth a Christmas destination.

Strong contenders being considered for development include turning Frost Park into a Winter Wonderland, promoting a lobster theme, more offsite signage, and distributing a business directory with coupons.
Read More »

White House Christmas tree selected

WLUK TV -- It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Well, at least for the owners of Schroeder's Forevergreens.

The official White House Christmas tree has been selected and it's coming from Northeast Wisconsin. White House staff visited a tree farm owned by Tom and Sue Schroeder in Neshkoro Monday morning. The couple owns Schroeder's Forevergreens.

After inspecting about a half -dozen trees, White House Grounds Superintendent Dale Haney selected an 18-and-a-half-foot-tall balsam fir.

"The color is great, the thickness is great, the smell is awesome," said Haney. "I think it's just the perfect tree for the White House Blue Room this year."

The Schroeders earned the honor after winning a national tree contest through the National Christmas Tree Association.
Read More »

National shortage of Santas calls for all Christmas types, from jolly fat men to skinny girls

The Daily Telegraph -- Santa Claus could soon come in all shapes and sizes: skinny, young and even female!

A national shortage of jolly Santas has sparked a drive for Christmas enthusiasts to sign up --- and the candidates don't have to fit the bearded and plump stereotype. Recruiting company TSS Westaff has made a desperate plea as the festive season nears and have opened the doors for everyone to apply.

They say in the past few years the numbers of applicants have dwindled due to an aging population, worries over pensions being slashed because of earnings, or fears they don't have a beard or their belly isn't round enough. But the idea of a skinny Santa has outraged some long-timers in the business, who say that it deviates too much from the role.
Read More »

Documenting Howard's Impact

Journal-Register -- The legacy of Charles Howard - whose work training young men to respect their work as bringers of joy and preservers of holiday magic was celebrated in Albion a year ago this week - was the focus of a documentary team that came to Albion this weekend.

The filmmakers wanted to visit where Howard spread happiness and to see the Lockport cottage dedicated to his honor. 'They Wore The Red Suit,' footage for which was filmed at last year's Charles Howard Day celebration, is a documentary about the unique men who commit their lives to becoming Santa Claus, and the two icons who shaped the path of they follow.

Larry Peters said his film will be completed in the next year. Festivals and public broadcasting stations are most likely to show the completed work. Howard, along with Jim Yellig, the Santa Claus of Santa Claus, Ind. " the town's name preceded the amusement park that Yellig made famous " are the two men whose presence will be shown throughout the film.

"I see a lot of parallels between Howard and Yellig," said Peters, who lived near Santa Claus, Ind.

"Each of these men gave their lives to spreading hope and joy; and they helped others become like them. There's something about being Santa Claus that is unlike any other job."
Read More »

The Hobbit adds master toy licensee

ToyNews -- The Bridge Direct has secured master toy and game licensing rights for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again. Licensor Warner Bros.

Consumer products expects the firm to produce "engaging products that will recreate the storyline with stunning detail."

Jay Foreman, president and CEO of The Bridge, said: "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again promise a timeless story, a broad range of appealing characters, thrilling action and the incomparable movie magic brought to life by master filmmaker Peter Jackson, all of which will make for an amazing toy line."

The first film, which stars Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, is due out on December 12th next year.
Read More »

Toys R Us puts 20 toys on its Christmas list

ToyNews -- This year Toys R Us has 20 toys on its Christmas list.

Both Mattel and Hasbro have four toys on the list with products from Lego, Flair, Vivid and more present. The Terrific Twenty - the toys the retailer believes will be its biggest sellers over Q4 - was based on a combination of customer requests and sales trends.
Read More »

Mattel updates Scrabble Trickster

ToyNews -- Mattel has revealed details of its new Scrabble Trickster UK Edition, which contains a new set of fan-made rules.

Over 1,500 suggestions were sent in after Mattel made a public appeal for new ideas..
Read More »

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Featured Member - September 2011

Each month, our Featured Member section profiles one ClausNet member.

Members are chosen totally at random by myself and the staff. Once selected as the ClausNet Featured Member of the Month, we interview the candidate and post the interview on This is a great way to get to know your fellow ClausNet members!

This month our featured ClausNet Member is Father Christmas!

I am happy to announce this month our ClausNet Featured Member of the Month for October 2011 is Father Christmas!

Father Christmas aka Santa Bruce joined us back in 2009 and he has been a valued contributor every since. What I love most about doing these interviews is learning how much we all have in common! For example, Bruce and I both love big breakfasts! Of course, Bruce prefers, what he calls 'rubber bacon' to the real stuff.

ClausNET Featured Member of the Month

I caught up with Bruce a few days ago and here is what he had to say...
Read the entire interview »

Missed an interview? Visit our Featured Members of the Month section to read past interviews!

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Time to Check on the Reindeer!

Excerpt from Christmas at Miller & Rhoads: Memoirs of a Snow Queen

By Donna Strother Deekens

Each morning during the holiday season, beginning the day after Thanksgiving, Santa made his official entrance to greet children and adults alike in Santaland in the Old Dominion Room.

Located on the seventh floor, visitors would excitedly ride the elevator from the first floor lobby (the last elevator on the right known as the "Santaland Express"), which a mother gleefully described to me on one occasion as "the flight to heaven!"

Others who ventured to "Santaland" elected to ride the escalators, winding up to "the top," their excitement building with each moving step from one floor to another. Such emotion emanated from everyone who flocked each Christmas to make the pilgrimage to visit the real Santa at Miller & Rhoads.

Most people realized they had just begun their journey once they made it to their lofty destination. Often the line to get into Santaland was a two "to- three hour wait, winding down the hall past the elevators. Sounds of chatter and laughter could be heard from those who waited in anticipation of their impending visit. Of course, eventually there were cries from tired children as well.

Overall, those who waited their turn were patient and good-natured. In the familiar fantasyland setting, most people felt very light-hearted about lining up to visit with the real Santa " later known as legendary Santa " and the Snow Queen and the Elf.

Visitors would conclude it was definitely worth the wait. Those who were fortunate enough to arrive in the morning before Santa made his appearance would try to situate themselves for the best view of the mantle and fireplace located on the stage.

Parents wanted to allow their children the best opportunity to witness Santa coming down the chimney. One of the Santaland staff who was an official greeter would command attention from the audience.

In my beginning years of playing the Snow Queen in the early 1970s, the gathered crowd was often welcomed by Ken Allen, a Miller & Rhoads executive, who ran the Santaland operation in those days. Allen had a sharp eye and keen ear for entertainment, having organized USO shows during World War II. He made the workings of Santaland and Santa's and the Snow Queen's visits to the Tea Room run like professional performances. I remember him being somewhat of a 'taskmaster,' but everyone respected his flair for showmanship.
Read more »

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The Merry Network Update

Merry Christmas Radio

By Jay Isherwood

We at Merry Christmas Radio are really excited to feel the chill in the air! That means we are only days away from the mass tuning in of our labor of love, Merry Christmas Radio!

Last year, during the month of December, we launched 70,000 streams! That means 70,000 listeners tuned into our not-so-little station!!! What can you expect in the coming days and weeks? New shows by RadioJon, Jeff Westover, Dr. Barry Graham, and myself, Jay Isherwood.

We'll explore Christmas customs, Christmas decor, Christmas stories, new and old Christmas music and just about anything else that applies to Christmas! So please tune in, early and often! New shows begin this week!!! Many artists are releasing new works this year, and while it is too soon to make any announcements, you can bet that your staff at Merry Christmas Radio is working hard at contacting those artists in the hopes of grabbing an interview or two!

Thanks for your support over the years, and for your enthusiasm for what we truly love Christmas Music!!!

Special Offer

Sponsored by Santa's

We're pleased to announce the First Edition of the My Merry Cookbook -- all new for Christmas 2011!

This project started over the summer months as an effort to boost the coffers of Santa's Sleigh -- our annual effort to help a family in need.

We learned all too well last year how difficult it is to raise money in a tough economic environment so this year we decided to try a little harder.

Using our collective love of Christmas and food we decided to publish our own cookbook.

About the MMC Cookbook

Over 300 delicious, delightful, and unique recipes submitted from around the world by members of the Merry Network.

Inside are names of folks you may recognize who submitted their family and traditional Christmas recipes.

While the finishing touches are being put on the cookbook we are now accepting pre-orders from those who wish to support Santa's Sleigh now and avoid the holiday rush later. You can pre-order the First Edition MMC Cookbook for just $19.95 plus $4.00 for shipping ($14 shipping outside the USA and Canada). To order, or for more information, visit

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Santa-America News

It's too early to be sick!

By Santa Lou

Well it happened! I came down with the flu when I least expected too.

It was early September and here in Atlanta we are breaking records with over 90 days of over 90 degree weather. I didn't expect this and so I'm surprised at being susceptible. I figured this would be like every other year; when I stated having children on my knee and coughing in my face I would probably come down with the 'crud.'

I was fooled this time. Coincidently some of the local pharmacies have begun advertising campaigns as they have the Flu Shot and are ready to administer it. It seemed early but since I have some form of the Flu that's another thing which has fooled me.

My favorite place to research things like this is the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. I checked them out and found out some interesting facts.

The content of Flu shot for 2011 - 2012 is basically the same as last year. Although Flu shots have had some extended longevity in your immune system you still need to have this year's shot. Basically Flu strains change and scientists change the formulas in anticipation of changing events.

If you are allergic to eggs you should consult with your physician before you are administered a Flu shot.

Oh by the way, if you are over age 65 there is a 'Super Shot' available which is stronger then the other formulas.

Check out the latest information at the CDC. Last year I published an article about the Flu shot and some health issues of importance to Santa America. I think the article speaks to current issues and we are repeating it hearin.

Attention All Santas, Mrs. Claus, and Helpers

The holiday season for Santas is not without its health risks and most of us have gotten ill during the season due to contact with germs. Santas are especially vulnerable because they see so many children in fact; they are in contact with more children than most health care professionals. We can greatly reduce our chances of illness by taking preventative measures for better health.

In 2009-2010, a new and very different flu virus called 2009 H1N1 spread worldwide causing the first flu pandemic in more than 40 years. During the 2010-2011 flu season the Center for Disease Control expects the 2009 H1N1 virus to cause illness again along with other influenza viruses.

The 2011-2012 flu vaccine will protect against 2009 H1N1 and two other influenza viruses. In the Northern Hemisphere's 2011-2012 seasonal influenza vaccine will contain the following three vaccine viruses: an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus, an A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2)-like virus, and a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.

I strongly urge Santas, Mrs. Claus and helpers to obtain flu vaccinations from their doctor, county health pharmacy or urgent care center. The Center for Disease Control reports the flu vaccine is your best protection against flu viruses and serious complications from the flu.

Past studies have shown the vaccine can reduce the chances of getting the flu by 70% to 90% in healthy adults. If you have never had a pneumonia shot or need a booster shot; now is the time to contact your doctor. The pneumococcal shot protects you from getting a serious infection in your blood or brain that can cause dangerous health problems, hospitalization or death.

Please give careful consideration to receiving these shots and do it early.

"A little dab will do ya."

In our roles as Santa, Mrs. Claus or Helpers we are exposed to a lot of children who are in various stages of being ill or who have been in contact with someone who is ill.

Airborne germs are spread by coughing or sneezing without covering the mouth. Unsuspecting victims will pick up the offender's germs simply by touching a doorknob, coffeepot handle, or a pen the sick person has touched.

Each victim touches his own face " eyes, nose, or mouth " before washing his hands, and the germs are planted.

There are two ways to cover a cough or sneeze: cough into a tissue and throw it away or cough into your upper sleeve or elbow.

By using either of these methods you can reduce the spread of germs and help stop the spread of germs and infectious diseases. Over the past decade the technique of coughing into an elbow is one that schools and day-care centers around the country have gradually adopted to help ward off colds, flu, influenza, whooping cough and other easily transmitted germs.

Coughing into your sleeve or elbow helps keep the germs off of the hands and helps reduce the spread of germs. If you use your hands to block a cough or sneeze, the germs stay on the hands. Then the hands can spread the germs. Keeping hands clean is the most important way to prevent the spread of infection and illness.

If soap and clean water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub to clean your hands. Hand sanitizers are convenient and when used properly, effectively kill 99.99% of germs.

Santa-tizing your hands is becoming more popular among children as many schools are making sanitizers available and instructing students in its use. In some venues, such as Malls, where many children are visiting Santa the elves put a dime size dollop of sanitizer on each child's hands as they are about to visit Santa.

At the same time a helper is putting sanitizer in the palm of Santa's hands. Both the child and the Santa are now strongly protected against germs by hand contact.

If you are a mall Santa ask your employer to do this as it will reduce or help eliminate lost time due to illness. Santa America is an advocate of hand Santa-tizing and encourages all Santas to be aware of the positive aspects of this program. Santa's who use the above method say they have been healthier and without seasonal sick days. Santas health is important.

Now, I ask you to join me in promoting a Healthy Christmas Season for Children and Santa. Let us prepare ourselves for the season and remind children of the ways they can stay healthy by Santa-tizing and coughing into their elbows.

For more information about these issues or other health questions contact:

Santa-America, Inc.
Santa Lou (santalou AT bellsouth DOT net)
Santa America Advisory Board

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New Christmas Elves

By JessicaStrom

As its heading toward holiday season my parents home is in its usual pre-Christmas chaos. Mom is franticly trying to put together the last minute orders for other Santas, Dad is adding to his 'cookie zone', and I am perfecting my plan on how to kick the neighbors butts at Christmas lights.

While I ultimately decided to Grinch out and not play elf side kick (plus working the graveyard shift makes it kinda difficult), my two younger cousins have been more than happy to fill in as Santa's newest helpers and Mom's latest sewing project ginny-pigs. Yes, Santa's two favorite nieces have become elves, and as such have to be properly outfitted in costumes like only mom could create.

As with all her projects, she is creating their dresses to be one of a kind and is putting way to much blood, sweat, and jingle bells into their creation. While they are more than 6+years my juniors, my cousins tower over my measly 5'4" height. Needless to say, I'm forcing them into flats for their elf duties. I'm secretly hoping that if I can force feed them large amounts of caffeine it may shrink them or I can attempt to throw them in the dryer, whichever will work the best.

Regardless of my disdain for having a vertically challenged physique, I know that the girls will have a lot of fun this Christmas. I may even be able to convince them to put up my lights so I won't even have to get on a ladder.
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Santa Claus Hall of Fame

Each month we feature an inductee of the Santa Claus Hall of Fame. This month we profile James Edgar.

James EdgarJames Edgar was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1843. He arrived in Brockton in 1878 and eventually set up a dry goods store on Main Street. In 1890, he got the idea based on a 1863 illustration of Santa Claus by artist Thomas Nast. Within days, children from as far as Boston and Providence, Rhode Island came by train to see James Edgar as Santa Claus.

He initially hung around his department store, but over the years, he was known to walk around the streets of Brockton dressed as Santa during Christmas. Edgar will be best remembered as the world's first known department store Santa, but he was also known for the sharing of his good fortune.

He helped pay for many children's medical care, offered jobs to youths in need and sponsored shelter for the homeless.

"I have never been able to understand why the great gentleman lives at the North Pole. He is so far away. He is only able to the children one day a year. He should live closer to them. So in 1890 James Edgar a department store owner in Brockton Massachusetts, made it so they could see him more."

James Edgar
1843 - 1909

Want to learn more? Check out the following:

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